novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

Mystical environmentalism is the disease. Stories like this one will be the cure:

According to my source, architect Mayne has stated that federal office workers do not get enough exercise. To address this, he installed elevators in the building that only stop at every third floor. This requires employees to walk up or down one or two flights of metal stairs.

Persons with physical disabilities who cannot use stairs can use a separate elevator that stops at every floor. The foreseeable result is that employees seeking to avoid stairs use the disabled access elevator, leaving this car crammed with people and making the ride to the top extremely slow…

That’s just a teaser – read and chuckle.

UPDATE: There will be a conference on this very topic on Monday in Williamsburg.

Today’s edition of the Washington Post has a fantastic article touching on the AG/LG jockeying for position heading into 2009.   The article builds on some of what I have mentioned here as of late.  The full article is worth a read, but here are some juicy excerpts:

…Bolling’s political success this year is based on more than his distance from the transportation plan.

With all 19 Senate Republicans basically unified on big votes, the chamber’s Democrats have struggled to keep their working majority. The Senate deadlocked last week on a vote to cut off state funding to Planned Parenthood because it offers abortion services.

The 20 to 20 vote meant Bolling was able to break a tie for the first time this year. He sided with the Republicans to cut off the funding. Bolling couldn’t have asked for a better vote to bolster his standing among antiabortion activists, who dominate GOP nominating contests.

“At a time when Governor Kaine has chosen to eliminate $250,000 in state funding for programs that teach abstinence education to young people across Virginia,” Bolling said after his vote, legislators “should not be using taxpayer dollars to fund an organization that uses those funds to provide abortions and abortion-related services.”

Bolling has also been taking an increasingly active role in the Senate Republican caucus, helping its members strategize over how to rebel against the Democratic majority.

As president of the Senate, Bolling gets to decide who has the majority on voice votes.

Even though Democrats almost always have the verbal advantage in the chamber, Bolling often sides with the GOP on voice votes, which forces Democrats to demand recorded votes.

Bolling has also taken a leading role in the partisan debate over the state budget. Bolling, assisted by GOP senators, found a clause in the state constitution that suggested a four-fifths vote was needed to approve the Senate budget because it included a transfer of lottery proceeds.

Senate Democrats voted to override Bolling’s decision, but the Division of Legislative Services released a letter last week that indicated his analysis of the constitution might have been correct…

 Check it out!

Marquez vs Vasquez -kerblooie is this one great fight. I ain’t blogging this one, folks. It is too good. If you get Showtime turn it on. The is the rubber match of three – they are tied 1 all. Vasquez (red shorts) is the champ – Marquez is hammering him but he comes back, literally off the mat, like Rodan.

Full-time bloggers find all the best links.

Good stuff.

I had to share this phenomenal LTE from Senator Cuccinelli.  We should all hope and pray that Virginia will be so fortunate as to have this man as our next Attorney General come 2009.

To the Editor:

I’ve been living the “budget battle” that’s been in the news this week and I wanted to take a moment to update you on some of the details. On Thursday, the Senate Democrats barely passed their budget and every Republican voted against it. In my experience, tough times have a way of revealing our priorities and this week’s budget did exactly that.

As I often do, I’d like to share some of the facts with you and get your viewpoint.

When it comes to the budget, there are two things that all of us agree on: (1) we are facing a serious – $640 million – budget shortfall, and (2) we must devote significant new resources to improving Virginia’s mental health system.

Unfortunately, that’s where the agreement stops. We can’t even seem to agree on how much money we can expect from tax revenue in the next two years and that is a major concern for me. If we overestimate the tax dollars the state will receive and spend money that we may never see, we’ll be in an even worse situation next year.

Despite the shortfall, Senate Democrats framed their budget around hundreds of millions of dollars of new programs. At the same time, they reduced spending on K-12 education by $43 million, removed $180 million from the funds we allocated to improve transportation last year, and risked the state’s credit rating by taking $423 million from the Rainy Day Fund.

So, help me understand this – we can fund experimental and unproven preschool programs – but we can’t help Fairfax build new schools? Lottery proceeds were always supposed to be for education but this budget diverts them to new spending programs requested by Tim Kaine. By the way, when the state doesn’t honor its financial commitments to help Fairfax or other counties build new schools, the schools still need built, and you and I will pay for them with increased real estate taxes.

Not only are our education funds at risk, Northern Virginia roads once again are the scapegoat for our budget woes. The Secretary of Transportation shows a 1.1 billion shortfall in our 6 year transportation budget. If there is one area where we shouldn’t be cutting funds, it’s our transportation systems. As a Northern Virginian, I would think the Democrat majority leader would know how much we need these dollars, but that does not appear to be the case with his budget reducing last year’s gains by almost fifty percent.

Here is the bottom line for me. The Rainy Day Fund is for emergencies and we need to use these monies carefully because the current recession could get worse and many economists think it will. Six years ago, we faced a six billion dollar shortfall and we took about the same amount out of the Rainy Day Fund then as the Democrats want to take from it now, with a far smaller shortfall. That’s just not responsible and we can do better.

My goal has been to defend the core budget priorities that are important to the people of Western Fairfax and transportation funding is at the top of that list, right next to education and public safety. The Democrat budget puts these core priorities at risk in order fund their pet programs and I could not support it.

So, let me know – do you agree with my vote against this budget or would you have supported it? Why or why not? Please contact me at district37@sov.state.va.us and let me know what you think.

Sincerely,

Senator Ken Cuccinelli, II

37th, District

As I noted yesterday… there have been some pretty significant developments in the 2009 GOP horserace. Some McDonnell activists have posted here disputing that the VA Supreme Court rejection of a major element in the 2007 Transportation bill (unelected regional taxing authorities) is a blow to McDonnell’s standing. First, let me be clear. I have no dog in this fight as of yet but am really starting to tune in and basically using this blog to think out loud and evaluate the choice we conservatives face (and frankly we have two solid options—but at the end of the day we need to pull the lever for someone). That said, it’s a bit disingenuous for AG-backers to try to dismiss the issue by stating that both the LG and AG were for the flawed transportation package and thus were both wrong, etc. There is a huge difference in the two (particularly when it comes to the now recognized unconstitutional element of the plan). The AG, along with Congressman Davis, were pushing extremely hard for a compromise transportation package (and rightfully taking credit for doing so). McDonnell was publicly and unequivocally assuring uneasy legislators that the unconstitutional regional taxing authorities were constitutional. Case in point, see this July 12, 2007, article in the Examiner, which said:

Virginia’s attorney general reiterated his views Wednesday that legislation allowing Northern Virginia to raise much-needed revenue to relieve the region’s ghastly traffic problems is constitutional…

…“Virginia’s constitution does not spell out what the General Assembly can do,” Robert McDonnell said after addressing the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce in Herndon. In some limited cases it restricts the General Assembly’s legislative powers, but this is not one of those cases. Courts have upheld similar special tax districts. This is a little different, but we think it is similar enough.”

Meanwhile, Bolling was clearly not a fan of the package and not on board with the regional taxing authorities. See this New Dominion article, which quotes the LG saying:

“This wasn’t the way I would have done – it wasn’t the way I think it should have been done. In a perfect world, if I were in charge, and everybody did everything my way, that’s not the way we would have done it. But the reality is, given the current political dynamics in Richmond, that plan or something like it was about the only thing that you could build sufficient consensus around to get a bill passed”…

…“I can certainly understand if folks look at this bill and say, That’s not the way I think it should have been done. I can certainly understand that – that’s my feeling about it entirely,”

So, we clearly had the AG not only supporting the bill but also assuring folks regarding the constitutionality of certain elements, while the LG openly disagreed with the approach. That’s a world of difference that McDonnell’s team was more than willing to point out when the bill was popular. Thus, my change of tune comment following the AG’s statement clearly distancing himself from his own handiwork.

Making matters worse for team McDonnell, not only was the AG wrong about the constitutionality of the transportation package, but Bolling has been proven right regarding the high-profile constitutional issue he’s delved into as of late—his ruling on the shifting of lottery fund dollars within the Senate budget with only a slim majority vote rather than the required 4/5 vote. These developments paint a clear contrast of constitutional judgment that can only bolster Bolling’s chances heading into 2009.

The past few days have been pretty big for conservatives (or anyone for that matter) up here in Northern Virginia!  Friday’s Virginia Supreme Court ruling overturning the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads tax increases in HB 3202 was simply phenomenal.  Many of us thought the unelected taxing authorities inserted into the transportation bill debacle last session was unconstitutional on its face.  Our great Senator (and hopefully our next Attorney General!) Ken Cuccienlli and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling were on the forefront of warning of this outcome and fighting against it. 

Personally, besides generally opposing giving unelected bodies the authority to levy an amalgamation of taxes and fees, I am extremely happy that the massively increased grantors tax was (at least temporarily) eliminated.   My family has seriously been considering selling our home to get more space and the elimination of the grantors tax increase will save us over $2,000.  Given the weak housing market, saving $2,000 will certainly help our cause.  I never thought I’d see a specific court decision potentially save us some serious cash!

That said, as we all continue to look towards 2009, I was very interested to see Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s comments on the court’s decision.  As we all know, last year he was a big proponent of these plans, and in fact wanted to take great credit for their passage, but now he says he was only defending them because it was his obligation to do so.

Now the AG says “We intervened in this case as is our obligation to defend challenges to the constitutionality of legislation passed by the General Assembly. The Virginia Supreme Court has spoken, we respect their decision, and we will advise our clients appropriately based on today’s ruling.”

I was disappointed to see McDonnell distancing himself from HB 3202 after trumpeting his involvement last year.   If you are going to accept the good from a legislative action, you need to take the bad as well.  I doubt he can realistically expect anyone who has been paying attention these past few years to not notice the sudden change of tune regarding the package for which he allegedly (at least according to some) served as the architect.

Regardless, we couldn’t be happier with the court’s decision.  Virginians remain free from taxation by unelected and unaccountable authorities—despite the best efforts of some folks down in Richmond.